Woman went to bed feeling dizzy and woke up with no hearing

A woman who went to sleep after feeling dizzy woke up to find she had lost her hearing.

Rhiannon Hodgson had been feeling a little bit dizzy when she first woke up, went back to sleep only to wake up unable to hear anything. The 37-year-old went to A&E where she was given antibiotics and sent home.

But her hearing failed to return, and doctors began the fear the woman, from Everton, might have a brain tumour. But as the country was just emerging from Covid lockdown, she was warned the wait for an MRI could be six months.

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Rhiannon, who also has autism, said the news gave her severe health anxiety. But after the scans, doctors diagnosed her with a severe case of labyrinthitis, a bacterial infection which had destroyed her middle ear and left her with no hearing in her left ear and moderate to severe hearing loss in her right.

Rhiannon, and her partner Eleanor Westwood, 32, were in denial at the news, with Rhiannon saying it felt as if her independence had been taken from her.

The artist was given ‘crossover’ hearing aids, which take the sound she hears in her functional right ear, and transfers it to a hearing aid in her left 'deaf' ear. But, Rhiannon explained, for someone with autism this was a sensory overload and resulted in her losing the confidence in everyday tasks, like driving.

She said: “Now there is big challenges – OCD and agoraphobia - they said that it was originally from a virus and I now get scared I will go outside and lose the rest of my hearing.”

She also experienced vertigo, anxiety, and poor sound location forcing her to leave her job, helping to paint theatre sets that often saw her working at height. This left her with depression.

Eleanor, said: “The world became a daunting place for her, she used to go to music colleges and go Goodison Park on her own, now she can’t even go a corner shop or post office without me or her mum.”

Rhiannon is from a large family of Evertonians, attending Gwladys Street Primary and Nursery school, which has a playground in the shadow of Goodison Park. So she decided to combine her two loves, art and Everton.

She channelled her talents into creating realistic miniatures of the stadium - starting with the turnstile she'd pass through to football games as a child. She began posting her creations on Twitter, and was swamped with messages from fellow Blues asking to buy her work.

Rhiannon said: “What I gained through my models gave me more than what I had before 10 times. [They] brought me back and more included in the Everton community."

This left her feeling inspired to give back to the local community and created a raffle for a turnstile miniature.

Each £5 tickets gave £1 to the charity ‘Everton in the community’ and she managed to sell around £350 worth of tickets. However, now she wants raffle another miniature off and give all of the proceeds to a local Everton charity.

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